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(506) 2223-1327                                 Published Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 229                      Email us
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Some supermarkets found to lack truthfulness
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Supermarkets in Costa Rica may be faster and
looser than expats became accustomed in their home countries.

The consumer section of the economics ministry in its most recent foray into retail found short weights, trick pricing and special promotion where the shopper would end up paying more.

A related study showed that a shopping cart with 51 products suitable for a typical family ranged in price from 99,553 colons to 124,518 colons for a difference of 24,965
shopping cart
colons. In dollars that is $183.34 to $229.32 with a difference of $45.98.

A supermarket trick that is seen repeatedly and verified by the Dirección de Apoyo al Consumidor survey puts together two identical products and
then prices the pair higher than if the shopper purchased the two items separately.

The survey report said that some stores showed lack of respect for clarity and truthfulness by offering products with commercial messages promising discounts or savings that the consumer was not able to verify at the store.

In reporting the results of the survey, the  Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio said it set up a program with the Laboratorio Costarricense de Metrología to verify the net contents of packaged products.

In the first set of 21 samples, the laboratory found one product that was short weight, the consumer office said.

The initial study about promotions and the store prices involved 12 supermarkets, including eight chain stores and four independents. The study of the shopping cart prices involved 51 supermarkets in San José, Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Puntarenas, Limón and Guanacaste.

The ministry said that the report from its consumer branch can be found on its Web site and that consumers can file complaints online, too.

Photos courtesy of a reader
Police keep order while former employees post demands for pay at the Hotel Europa
Expat investors wonder what Milanes will do next
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats and others who believe they have been defrauded by Luis Milanes Tamayo have been trying to get the Cuban-American to vacate the Europa Hotel in downtown San José.

The hotel was part of the real estate Milanes put up as a partial settlement in his fraud case. He has been living there and also had one of his casinos on the first floor.

A trust that is involved in the complex arrangement has been pushing for eviction. Still, there was a surprise Monday when Milanes abruptly closed the casino in the Hotel Europa and also a separate Europa Casino in the Hotel Radisson in northern San José.

Some expats believe that Milanes already has turned two other casinos over to Venezuelan investors and may not be around for a criminal trial scheduled for next year.

The investor's trust was getting about $13,000 a month rent for the Hotel Europa casino, but their goal is to sell the property. Milanes has a reputation of interpreting his leases in his favor, and one investor said that the casino owner
stopped paying the rental charge about three months ago when he was faced with a demand to vacate.

The hotel and other properties were put up by Milanes in an effort to settle the criminal claims.

He is the former owner of Savings Unlimited, a high-interest operation that paid clients up to 3 percent a month. Milanes closed down the operation in the Edificio Colon 12 years ago this month and vanished.

Some of the former employees of the casino were downtown Tuesday posting signs demanding the mandatory Christmas bonus and whatever pay and benefits they have earned. Police were there for crowd control. Some employees complained to reporters 12 years ago that they had been stiffed.

Milanes has a Teflon reputation. When he returned to Costa Rica in June 2008. It appeared then that he had made some kind of deal because he spent just a night in jail. Some expats point out that Milanes is surrounded by bodyguards who carry machine pistols that may not be legal in Costa Rica.  In addition, the lucrative casinos operated by Milanes never were part of the criminal court case. And investors have been on a judicial roller coaster as Milanes made sophisticated use of the courts.

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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

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Toll Free: 1-888-782-1119 or  2643-4334, 2643-3672
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Road tax values being questioned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

About 70 percent of the annual marchamo is taxes. And it is the Ministerio de Hacienda that approves the formula that assesses the value of each motor vehicle or other craft that is subject to the tax.

Tuesday the ministry issued a statement defending its calculations. It said the formula has been reviewed by the Escuela de Estadística de la Universidad de Costa Rica and was fixed by law.

The taxes also are levied on boats and aircraft. The rate ranged from 1.2 to 3.5 percent of assessed value.

However, there is growing concern that the valuations are out of step with real market value.

The ministry had an answer for that, too.

If anyone believed that the assessed value of the vehicle is incorrect, there is a way to seek a change. The vehicle owner has to argue the case by using copies of classified advertising and similar evidence. Most will not because there is a lot of paperwork involved.

The situation has caught the attention of some lawmakers and those in the vehicle trade.

President's comment irks lawmakers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers have taken issue with the president's hope that development in the southwestern part of the country will not repeat the errors of the development model of Guanacaste.

The president, Luis Guillermo Solís, made that statement when he visited the new museum for the stone spheres in Osa last week.  It appears he also said that on a twitter feed.

Marta Arauz Mora, a Liberación Nacional lawmaker, protested Tuesday and said that the presidential Web site is generating information indicating that it does not want foreigners to come and enjoy themselves in the country's beauty and culture.

Another lawmaker, Johnny Leiva Badill, said the central government was failing to provide leadership for Guanacaste development and tourism.

Retired professor died in crash

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An 81-year-old retired university professor died in a one-vehicle crash near the Cañal Blancal bridge in Herradura Monday afternoon.

He was identified as William A. Bussing, who was a U.S. citizen despite years of living here. A Costa Rican who knew him said that the Universidad de Costa Rica retiree considered Costa Rica his second country. He had been here for many years.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that Bussing was a passenger in a vehicle that skidded and struck a retaining barrier and utility pole. The driver was unhurt, the agency said.

Bussing was a leading ichthyologist and had written extensively about fish. He was a member of the Academia Nacional de Ciencias.

Bussing was a 1965 graduate of the University of Southern California with a master's degree in taxonomy and ichthyology. He began teaching here in 1962 and retired in 1991.

He published a number of books and academic articles in English and Spanish on the topic and reported on the discovery of new species

General Cañas work calls for closures

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz said Monday that its employees will start painting the utility poles in the median of the General Cañas highway Nov. 24.  The work is expected to last until Jan. 15.

As a result the inside lanes of the highway will be closed in places, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

The work will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. seven days a week. The break in the daytime will accommodate the morning and evening rush hour.

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Dispute over sovereignty heating up along the Río San Juan
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government has accused Nicaragua of entering Costa Rica and cutting some trees there. This is a continuation of the prolonged Río San Juan situation.

Casa Presidencial released photos showing a boat and its crew working along the Costa Rican border and workmen cutting brush and logs. The border between the two countries is the south bank of the river for most of its distance.

Earlier this week the government said that dredging in the river was undermining the Costa Rican bank.

The International Court of Justice has yet to make a finding in the 2010 case where Nicaragua soldiers invaded Isla Calero in far northeast Costa Rica and tried to dig a channel to the Caribbean. Since then there have been periodic provocations by the Nicaraguans.

Officials said that Fuerza Pública officers are now under orders to detain anyone who sets foot on Costa Rican soil without the legal right to do so. It was the Fuerza Pública that discovered the latest activity.

Costa Rican officials also said they alerted the International Court of Justice to the situation and served a diplomatic note on Nicaragua.

The Nicaraguan workers were quoted as saying they were cleaning the river.

In the legislature members of the Partido Liberación Nacional said that the government should continue constructing the roadway along the south bank of the river.
ssn jaun river
Casa Presidencial photo
Police officer confronts workmen along the river's south bank

The project was mired in corruption during the Laura Chinchilla presidency, but it did bring some public utilities to isolated communities along the river.  Until the road way was built, residents could only use the river for transportation, and sometimes they were harassed by Nicaraguan soldiers.

Nicaragua appears to be seeking access to the Caribbean for development along its side of the river. Much of the channel mouth is silted up.

More agencies try to defend their 2015 budgets from lawmakers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Supporters of the cultural ministry were marching Tuesday to urge lawmakers to restore budget cuts.

Today the minister of  Justicia y Paz, Cristina Ramírez Chavarría, is expected to outline the damage budget cuts will do to her agency. She supervises prisons and the Registro Nacional, among others.

The opposition Partido Liberación Nacional pointed out Tuesday that the reduced 2015 budget still is 11.7 percent when corrected for inflation and higher than the previous year

The budget is supposed to be approved by Nov. 30, and as that date
approaches more government agencies will be lobbying for their budget. University students are expected to do so again soon.

Supporters of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud, noted that the budget already was reduced before a legislative committee got a hold of the document. It was there that a 3.8 percent overall cut was made before the document was sent to the floor.

Elizabeth Fonseca, the culture minister, said that if the cuts were maintained her ministry would not be able to continue with a plan of decentralization.

The Poder Judicial said Monday that it has appealed its proposed budget to the Sala IV constitutional court.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Study rules out climate change for Bronze Age population decline
By the University of Bradford news service

Scientists will have to find alternative explanations for a huge population collapse in Europe at the end of the Bronze Age as researchers prove definitively that climate change, commonly assumed to be responsible, could not have been the culprit.

Archaeologists and environmental scientists from the University of Bradford, University of Leeds, University College Cork, Ireland, and Queen's University Belfast have shown that the changes in climate that scientists believed to coincide with the fall in population in fact occurred at least two generations later.

Their results, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that human activity starts to decline after 900 BC, and falls rapidly after 800 BC, indicating a population collapse. But the climate records show that colder, wetter conditions didn't occur until around two generations later.

Fluctuations in levels of human activity through time are reflected by the numbers of radiocarbon dates for a given period. The team used new statistical techniques to analyze more than 2000 radiocarbon dates, taken from hundreds of archaeological sites in Ireland, to pinpoint the precise dates that Europe's Bronze Age population collapse occurred.

The team then analyzed past climate records from peat bogs in Ireland and compared the archaeological data to these climate records to see if the dates tallied. That information was then compared with evidence of climate change across northwest Europe between 1200 and 500 BC.

"Our evidence shows definitively that the population decline in this period cannot have been caused by climate change," says Ian Armit, professor of archaeology at the University of Bradford, and lead author of the study.

Graeme Swindles, associate professor of earth system dynamics at the University of Leeds, added, "We found clear evidence for a rapid
change in climate to much wetter conditions, which we were able to precisely pinpoint to 750 BC using statistical methods."

According to Armit, social and economic stress is more likely to be the cause of the sudden and widespread fall in numbers. Communities producing bronze needed to trade over very large distances to obtain copper and tin. Control of these networks enabled the growth of complex, hierarchical societies dominated by a warrior elite. As iron production took over, these networks collapsed, leading to widespread conflict and social collapse. It may be these unstable social conditions, rather than climate change, that led to the population collapse at the end of the Bronze Age.

According to Katharina Becker, lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at University College Cork, the Late Bronze Age is usually seen as a time of plenty, in contrast to an impoverished Early Iron Age. "Our results show that the rich Bronze Age artifact record does not provide the full picture and that crisis began earlier than previously thought," she says.

"Although climate change was not directly responsible for the collapse it is likely that the poor climatic conditions would have affected farming," adds Armit. "This would have been particularly difficult for vulnerable communities, preventing population recovery for several centuries."

The findings have significance for modern day climate change debates which, argues Armit, are often too quick to link historical climate events with changes in population.

"The impact of climate change on humans is a huge concern today as we monitor rising temperatures globally," says Armit.

"Often, in examining the past, we are inclined to link evidence of climate change with evidence of population change. Actually, if you have high quality data and apply modern analytical techniques, you get a much clearer picture and start to see the real complexity of human/environment relationships in the past."

Vacation, travel and hospitality

La Fortuna
Comfort of your home in the campo, 5 minutes from Fortuna Centro of San Carlos, in the shadow of Volcano Arenal, Flat screen TV, AC, refrigerator, free coffee. Local area activities like four-wheeling, horse riding, zip lining, hot springs, jungle walking tours. Bring your camera for great photos of nature, fishing and swimming, canyoning and wireless internet. Harry Hart, proprietor.  Call for reservations  (506) 2479-8670   and (506) 8682-9219  Email:

Will Costa Rica Retirement Work For You?
Find out for yourself on Live In Costa Rica Tours

When you visit Costa Rica, you'll want to discover what you need to know to  make the right choice about moving to this tropical paradise.  Our familiarization tours have won hard-earned credentials that prove general excellence and the right focus.  These are the only retirement tours that are licensed and approved by the Costa Rican government and tourism institute  (ICT). In 2006 we were featured on the NBC Today Show and World News.  In 2010, we won the  prestigious Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the Best and Most Unique Tour in Latin America.

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
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Anywhere Costa Rica plans custom vacations, and has the most comprehensive travel services in the country including travel guides, resorts and vacation homesCosta Rica tours
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Call 1-888.456.3212 or 2479-8811 locally.

Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.


Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom

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Enjoy living in the middle of wonderful mountains.
Fresh air, gorgeous forest. Near downtown but away from noisy city.  Nature lifestyle.  Beautiful chalet in a large property located in Monte de la Cruz, Heredia. Two bedrooms, two baths, laundry room, fully furnished, security, electric gate. Rate $500 monthly. Phone  2267-6306  Email


Beautiful cottage in San Rafael, Heredia

Cottage in the mountain.  Surrounded by nature.  One bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms. Beautiful balcony and view. Bus line service, security.  $500 monthly.  Phone: 506-8739-0638  Email:

Maneul Antonio
The vacation homes at Manuel Antonio Estates offers luxury, comfort and peace of mind. We have numerous homes to chose from, all within walking distance of the town’s shops and restaurants and just a few minutes to the best beaches and the famous national park. While the homes are secluded and hidden among the rainforest, the surrounding area offers adventures like zip lines, white water rafting, mangrove kayaking and many more. All of the homes are available for short-term rentals, have easily accessible parking, cable TV, and Internet and are fully furnished. We are happy to assist with all your need for the perfect Costa Rican vacation.
Manuel Antonio Estates        TOLL FREE: 1800 346 9724
011 (506) 2777.3339

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80 stations, water, washer
 and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

Beautiful fully furnished two floor house for rent
in La Guacima

Guacima montage
La Guacima, Alajuela. 20 minutes from airport, San José or Alajuela Centro and 30 minutes from Heredia. Near highway 27. $1,000 a month. All services included (Internet, water, electricity, security). Very private, very quiet, green areas, fully furnished. Must like animals (we have three gentle dogs), look at high resolution pics HERE! U.S. citizens or Europeans preferred. No children. Call to inquire and for appointment to visit. Available for rent in December. Contact phone number:  (506)  8839-4315.

Organic farm home
$800 plus utilities.
Two-bedroom, two-bath house, fully furnished, Internet included, cable TV available. Inside organic farm, safe and secure. In the country but close to town. Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Email for more info and pictures. Long term, NO DOGS.

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.
We are offering homes for every budget and every need.
Please visit our Web page at or contact us at
or call at (506) 2654-5442.

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

HP Cattle rentals
Mountain homes or farm for rent
Barva volcano, Heredia province
We offer for rent a gorgeous two-bedroom mountain chalet and a one-bedroom mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude and within a working horse ranch just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance. From our homes one can hike to the Barva volcano crater-lake.  Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and breathtaking views of the Irazú volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of cloud forest bird species to include the resplendent quetzal.  The homes are incomparable in beauty and attention to detail within the Barva highland area.  We are only 35-55 minutes from Costa Rica’s three principal cities (Heredia, Alajuela, and San José), less than two hours from the central Pacific beaches, and three hours from the Caribbean beaches. Enjoy the tranquility of the mountains while maintaining quick access to the conveniences of the city and rapid access to other eco-tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Additionally, we can board your horses at a reasonable fee.  We can also offer our clients rental of a small and fully functional farm complete with stables, pasture, and office space.
Mountain chalet: $750.  Basic mountain home: $400.
Boutique mountain home: One-bedroom $850. Two-bedroom $1,000.
Small Farm that includes a chalet, basic mountain home, stables, and 8,000m2 of pasture/green areas: $1,500.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 229    
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Missouri government plans
study of social conditions

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The governor of Missouri Tuesday announced the formation of a commission to study the underlying social and economic conditions that resulted in riots after an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by a white police officer in the city of Ferguson last August.

The incident sparked a debate over racial profiling and police brutality in the St. Louis suburb and in America. Protesters, the majority of them peaceful, have been camping outside Ferguson's police department since August, demanding action. A grand jury is deliberating whether to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown.

The Ferguson commission of nine blacks and seven whites will conduct hearings, gather evidence and develop policy recommendations. Gov. Jay Nixon has encouraged members to suggest steps to bridge the deep splits in the community. The commission, however, will not have the mandate to investigate any specific police shooting.

Phil Gassoway, a Ferguson resident and one of the protesters outside the police department, called Nixon's announcement a joke and accused him of pretending to help. If the governor really wanted to help, he would have announced a board with powers over the police, said Gassoway.

Some protest groups have demanded a citizens review board with subpoena and decision-making powers to review police practices and investigate specific incidents involving police violence in the future.

Another Ferguson resident, Cassandra Butler, an African-American political scientist who attended the announcement, thought it was a good start, but said the real test would be in the implementation of any recommendations. 

At a news conference following the announcement about the commission, the governor faced tough questions from some members of the public over his decision to declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard a day earlier.

"If somebody's breaking a window, are they going to get shot down on the street?" one agitated questioner asked. Another wanted to know why the governor was preparing for war when the protests had been peaceful for the last three months.

"I'm preparing for peace," Nixon said.  He expressed concern about some people who may be coming to instigate or cause harm to people or property, pointing out that protests immediately after Brown's death had turned violent. He promised that authorities would apply principles of community policing.
Nixon is not the only person worried about potential violence if the grand jury decides against indicting Wilson. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said the announcement in the racially charged case "will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure." The agency issued the warning a few days ago in a bulletin obtained by news agencies.

Akbar Muhammad of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition, who is also a member of the Nation of Islam, attended Nixon's news conference. He accused authorities of creating a hysteria in the community.

"People are keeping their children out of schools, stocking up on supplies, and then they call in the National Guard," Muhammad said.

Other protesters have indicated that the activation of the National Guard should be taken as a threat, saying that in the last few months it's been the police who have unnecessarily engaged them physically.

"The police are not properly trained, and when the protesters yell and scream at them, they cannot take it," Gassoway said of the Ferguson police. He described a situation in which police started grabbing some protesters, throwing them to the ground and locking them up.

Despite cold weather, the protesters outside the police station have at least one person there most of the time. They say that once the grand jury announces its decision, more will come out to converge there. If there is an indictment, they say they will stay there until Wilson goes to jail.  If the jury does not indict, they will demand a new prosecutor.

Feds take actions to close
the dark side of the Internet

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Federal and international authorities have just closed down a massive Internet drugs and weapons operation and some 400 other so-called dark net websites.

For nearly a year, Internet users who knew how to gain access to a special hidden Web site could shop for drugs, false identification documents, Internet hacking tools and illicit goods.

The criminal operation came crashing down earlier this month when the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and two European entities, Europol and Eurojust, shut down the site known as Silk Road 2.0.

Its operator, Blake Benthall, 26, of San Francisco, California, was arrested and faces four criminal counts.

Benthall, who went by the nickname Defcon, is charged with conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent identification documents, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. If convicted, he could spend decades in prison.

The FBI said Silk Road 2.0 had about 150,000 users who transacted some $96 million in drug and other sales during its 12-month existence.

Seventeen Internet site administrators and service vendors were also arrested and face varying charges.

Authorities also seized over $1 million worth of bitcoin, a form of digital currency, 180,000 Euros in cash, and quantities of drugs, gold and silver.

Included in the investigation known as Operation Onymous was the shutdown of more than 400 dark Internet sites, ones that operated on the Tor network, which makes users anonymous through special routers disguising origins.

Dark net sites are part of a larger section of the Internet known as Deep Web that includes many sites either hidden from view or not searchable through standard search engines, such as Google.

Tor describes itself as “a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. ... Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.”

Author Rob Price, writing in the Business Insider’s Daily Dot, reported that the servers on which Silk Road 2.0 operated were located in Lithuania. Price wrote that these servers led authorities to Benthall.

“Defcon, a.k.a. Blake Benthall,” he wrote, “made no real attempt to hide his identity, registering the servers to the e-mail address ‘’ ”

Federal officials also said they identified Benthall as Silk Road 2.0’s purveyor through an inside informant.

In the federal complaint against Benthall, authorities said a Homeland Security Investigations agent acting in an undercover capacity, successfully infiltrated the support staff involved in running the Silk Road 2.0 Web site and was provided access to private areas of the Web site available to Blake Benthall, the defendant, and his administrative staff. In that role, the agent regularly interacted directly with Blake Benthall.”

Authorities said Benthall started Silk Road 2.0 after another drugs and other contraband Internet marketplace, the original “Silk Road,” was shut down by authorities in October 2013.

The first Silk Road began operations in February 2011, run by Ross William Ulbricht, who went by the moniker Dread Pirate Roberts.

The original Silk Road site is believed to have trafficked in $1.2 billion worth of drugs and weapons during its 2.5- year lifespan.

Ulbricht, who has entered not guilty pleas to all charges, is scheduled to face trial in January.

Benthall’s Silk Road 2.0 had features similar to legitimate shopping Web sites, such as pages with products, and descriptions and prices for quantity of drugs or other contraband. The final transaction was processed through 2.0’s bitcoin payment system.

Bitcoin is not a traditional currency. However, it can function as a currency to facilitate transactions internationally, especially over the Internet.

However, bitcoins are traceable by investigators, explained Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at Coin Center, a nonprofit research and advocacy center focused on crypto-currencies.

“Unlike real cash, bitcoin leaves a paper trail. Bitcoin has a ledger, called the block chain, that lists all transactions across the network,” Van Valkenburgh said.

“It's pseudonymous so your name isn't there, but a unique address made of numbers and letters is," he said. "And investigators can track funds moving in and out of that address until they find a link in the transaction history that they can identify, like when you bought the bitcoins on an exchange using a credit card, or bought something with the same bitcoin address on a Web site that wasn't part of the dark net like  where your IP address or other personal identifying information could have been recorded.”

One lawmaker who wants robust federal action to shut down the dark net and its illicit sites is New York Sen. Charles Schumer.

Schumer sent a letter in October to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, demanding increasing oversight on technologies that make the dark net possible.

Schumer has also called on the U.S. Justice Department to step up its efforts against the drug trade.

Drug and other illegal sales on the dark net continue nearly unabated.

In an article appearing on Nov. 7, writer Mike Power wrote: “Long term, this bust makes no difference. A new . . .  Web site will be online in a few days, selling drugs to anyone who wants them. … In fact, there are dozens online already.”

African Union seeks to end
long tradition of child brides

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mozambique has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage driven by strong social and cultural traditions, despite the practice being illegal. Early marriage compromises girls’ right to education and can have a devastating impact on their health.  The African Union has pledged to stop all child marriages within a generation.

In a sandy suburb of Pemba in northern Mozambique, 16-year-old Rachel bounces her daughter on her knee before handing the fidgety toddler to her sister.

Rachel, who did not want to reveal her real name and asked not to be recorded, describes how at 14, she got pregnant.

“My big sister insisted that I stay in school,” she said. “There are many here who have babies at a young age but normally, they leave school to get married and continue to have children every year after that. Some think marriage is a guarantee of security,” she said.

It’s a familiar narrative in Mozambique where 52 percent of girls marry before they are 18.

Ceremonies with dancing and music mark the beginning of the mostly secretive initiation rites season in Pemba. Girls are removed from school when they have their first menstruation, sometimes before, and are kept away for days, weeks, or even months to undergo initiation by the matronas, female community elders.

It is so accepted in this northern province that the school calendar has been adapted to accommodate the practice.

Initiation rites prepare girls for married life in Mozambique with training in submissiveness, domestic duties, the art of seduction and may include female genital mutilation in the belief that it will increase male sexual pleasure.

After going through initiation, girls are considered ready for marriage.

Françoise Moudouthe, Africa regional officer for Girls Not Brides, said child marriage often forces girls to drop out of school and to have children before their bodies are mature enough.

“Most of them are expected to enter into sexual intercourse very early, before her body is ready. She’s also very often expected to have children to prove her value as a wife and the consequences of early pregnancy for a girl, especially the youngest child bride, is really dramatic. Girls, who are married before age 15, are five times more likely to die or be injured in childbirth than girls over age 19,” said Moudouthe.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the African Union goodwill ambassador for the campaign to end child marriage in Africa, said the practice is a violation of the fundamental rights of girls. She believes that if governments, women and youth movements, faith and traditional leaders pull together, it can be ended within a generation.

“Getting into early marriage should not be an option out of poverty. It is important that our girls have access to education, not only primary education but are able to transition into secondary, tertiary education and get jobs or are involved in some entrepreneurship… We need to also address some of the very strong patriarchal attitudes where girls are seen as wives and not citizens. Girls are not getting married to boys, girls are getting married to adult men who are supposed to be responsible,” said Ms. Gumbonzvanda.

She argued that current social traditions in Mozambique to initiate girls into womanhood should not be banned, but rather adapted with more positive age-appropriate messages to equip girls with vital skills so they do not have to depend solely on marriage.

Slowly, attitudes are changing in Pemba as men and women are progressively exposed to information through media and better education.

Child-to-child radio programs debate issues pertinent to young people, giving them a stronger voice in the community. National campaigns raising health awareness are helping parents learn about the detrimental impact of early marriage.

Rachel’s parents are stalling her completion of the initiation rites in the belief it might help her stay in school.

“I really like to study, and when I finish, I want a job, I want to be financially independent,” Rachel said.

For Rachel and her sisters living in a modest concrete house in Pemba, they aspire to have more than what they have grown up with - whether it is the latest fashion, or a smartphone, or a career that gives them freedom and independence.

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For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 4030-5480 or 8339-2112.

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Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
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Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
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Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English calls: (Cristian Arce) Phone: 
(506) 2494-0016 
(506) 8309-0173
English calls :  (Luis David) Phone: 
(506) 6154-1940

Español calls: (Luis G. Jiménez)  Phone:   
(506) 8707-4016
Grecia 884
Beautiful large house in Grecia, Costa Rica, with the best fresh natural weather. The property includes 9 challets and and 12.000 m2 of land,  1,000 m2 of construction. Price $498.000. Click HERE!
Grecia 881
Beautiful house in Grecia, Costa Rica,  2 kilometers from the city.   340 m2 of land.
Price $135.000. Click
Grecia 883
Beautiful  House in Grecia, Costa Rica,  1.5  kilometers from the city.   220 m2 of land. Price $138.000.  Click HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

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Condo montage
Cariari luxury condo for sale
 PRICE REDUCED FROM $235,000 to $195,000
This is not an ordinary condo. Completed one year ago, a $45,000 renovating made it an exquisite dwelling. As soon as you walk in you know it is a special home. No detail has been overlooked, even minuscule ones. The owner has a need to move on, and someone lucky will be the beneficiary of the fine detailed work. The home itself has three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms plus a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom. Also, it has a living room, dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with a kitchenette. There’s also a small outdoor patio. Being the end unit of this four-home condo complex, there’s parking space for three vehicles.  Approximately 240 sq. meters. All this near the Cariari Golf and Country Club and its renowned Tom Facio golf course. The club also has amenities such as a fitness centre, exercise room, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, 12 tennis courts and many other benefits. Tel:  8384-9608 or 2293-9054  Price $195,000.

Atenas home
This developer's prime lot with super house is being offered in Roca Verde, 7,006 M2 of gentle grade, all landscaped for tropical effect, 3 bedrooms 2 baths with tile floors and hardwood kitchen, near the entrance of the neighborhood. Great floor plan on this one! There is a double carport, and a large patio and pool, wheelhouse style living room and many other features. View, large usable lot, close to town, nice, oh yeah. $495,000.

More photos HERE!
Another 'live in the view' home in Puriscal
$179,900 includes:
Lot on river, concrete road, custom kitchen & bath with granite counter tops, PEX plumbing, 2” Styrofoam, sandwiched in steel roof, 4” concrete/recycled Styrofoam & steel walls, laminated, bronzed windows, custom wood doors, appliances and all transfer taxes, and fees.

2, 900 sq feet under roof, 1,250 sq feet inside walls, 2 bedroom, 2 ½ baths, laundry room, three separate patio areas, covered carport, shade trees, in upscale, secure project.  This project has river with protected areas & walkways. It is only 10 minutes on all paved roads to Santiago de Puriscal, 45 minutes to La Plaza Mall/Hospital CIMA and SJO airport, and 1 ½ hours to Pacific Beaches. It has recently upgraded public water supply and dependable ICE electric and high-speed internet.
Please come visit our projects and meet four new homeowners who have recently moved into their new “live in the view” homes to verify how happy they are and that they all came in under budget. CONTACT: George Lundquist  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!

Maneul Antonio
Manuel Antonio Estates focuses on building vacation homes for clients within Manuel Antonio Estates and Palmas Pacifica. We take care of the details from permits and design to supervision of construction and management of the rentals, if needed. We provide privacy and security, and our gated community offers shared common recreational facilities, beautiful landscaping and parking areas. Our homes and lots are located just minutes from the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. If you've ever considered buying a second home, just minutes from the beach, do not hesitate, if you have any questions or would like to request more information please take full advantage of our Costa Rica real estate services and contact us today!
Manuel Antonio Estates    1 800 346-9724  (506) 8815-9606.

Ciudad Colon
Great Deal!! Apartment in condo with pool and extensive green areas:
Ciudad Colón, San José $112,000
The apartment has a master bedroom with a large ensuite bathroom with bath tub, and a smaller second bedroom/office with air conditioning. It has a second full bathroom, living/dining room, laundry room with hot water tank and storage area. The kitchen comes with granite countertops, a breakfast bar and new dishwasher. It has 82 m2 of construction. 2 balconies with beautiful views of the river and mountains. Private parking for one car. Elevator and a well presented reception area. Located in a very quiet and private neighborhood just 400 meters from the centre of Ciudad Colón. Within minutes to all major amenities in Santa Ana and Escazú. Easy access to the beach (less than 1.5 hrs).  24-hour security, visitor parking, pool, extensive and lush green areas, BBQ area, children’s playground and its own water treatment plant. Contact (506) 6022-9294 or 6022-9967, for further info or to arrange a viewing.

Suenos montage
Outrageous blowout prices on oceanfront condos in Los Sueños!

Located in the private Bay Residence enclave overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Los Sueños Resort and Marina, there are three gorgeous units available at unbelievable bargain pricing from $589,000.  All of these beautiful units are three bedrooms and two baths, 2,200 square feet, fully furnished and ready to move in.  Development includes a gym, access to 3 pools, jacuzzis, BBQ areas and the Beach Club.  If you’ve always wanted to own in Los Sueños, now is the time!  Contact  or call 8702-0778.  From U.S. call 209-482-1788.

Top floor unit: $649,000   Second floor unit: $675,000  Garden unit: $589,000

Newly available in Roca Verde
Well-built home of 215 m2, 3 bedrooms, two bath on 1,150 m2 of lot, with attractive rock retaining wall, carport, and a pool. Indoors there are high, vaulted hardwood ceiling, bright rooms, a laundry room.  The floor is ceramic tile in pastel shades. $247,000. Photos: 2446-5587.

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya.7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 ft. elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 baths, appliances included. High-speed internet installed, Direct TV via sling box on Internet. $199,000 Contact   Check out slide show HERE!

Condo montage
Cariari luxury condo for sale
This is not an ordinary condo.
Completed one year ago, a $45,000 renovating made it an exquisite dwelling. As soon as you walk in you know it is a special home. No detail has been overlooked, even minuscule ones. The owner has a need to move on, and someone lucky will be the beneficiary of the fine detailed work. The home itself has three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms plus a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom. Also, it has a living room, dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with a kitchenette. There’s also a small outdoor patio. Being the end unit of this four-home condo complex, there’s parking space for three vehicles.  Approximately 240 sq. meters. All this near the Cariari Golf and Country Club and its renowned Tom Facio golf course. The club also has amenities such as a fitness centre, exercise room, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, 12 tennis courts and many other benefits. Tel:  8384-9608 or 2293-9054  Price $214,500.

two houses
Two lovely homes on one big lot in Esterillos Oeste, (Central Pacific)
Located on a breezy hill just 4 minutes walk to the beach, surf and tide-pools, only 20 minutes drive north to Jacó nightlife and shopping or south to the rural town of Parrita.

First, a 2-story, 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1½-bathroom house with big kitchen and living room.  Full-width verandah with eating and sitting areas, overlooking lawn, pool and gazebo. Sitting balcony at upper, bedroom level.  Carport and laundry. 

Second, a completely private single-story 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1-bathroom home with big back yard at a lower level on the same, big fully titled 1,100M2 lot. Full security bars at all doors and windows, plus locking vehicle access and pedestrian gates at the street. In a very safe neighborhood, with private and natural surroundings

Well maintained, fully and tastefully furnished and equipped, hot water, local phone, cable TV/DVD and high speed wireless internet.   The houses have been rented for both long-term and vacation for $100/$80 per day and $1,500/$1,200 per month respectively. See this place, you will love it! Then make an offer. E-mail or call (506) 8386-8825.  Rodney, asking $350,000.


Beach Front Home - Central Pacific Coast
Pristine condition, recently renovated. The best surfing and boogie boarding in the country. The most magnificent ocean and sunset view. New 20-year, fully registered concession on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Easy access from San José (1 hour 25 minutes) located between Jacó and Manuel Antonio, in Esterillos Oeste.  2 or 3 bedrooms. Center room can be living room. House with 2 1/2 baths. Separated rancho with kitchen and large entertainment patio. Landscaped garden with no water shortage. Has both municipal and well water with automatic watering system. Direct access to the beach as no road is in front of property. Protected land on one side of the property for additional privacy.  Alarm system and complete shutters for security while away. Lot approximately 1,725 square meters, Asking price: $385.000.  Contact to Paul at local phone 506- 2637-8858  Cell phone 506- 8823-8550 .  US Mobile 908-400-9772  Emails:  and


Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

ARenal property
Location: Near Arenal        Price: $2.7 million
Size: 113 acres
Web site:

The farm is at the highest point on a stunning ridge bordered by pristine Costa Rican primary forest on all sides of the property, with active wildlife all throughout the area. On each of its gently rolling terraced lomas you get a glimpse of Volcán Arenal from a distance. This property has four different lagunas, a working organic farm and nursery, mature fruit trees, sheep corral, ideal for grazing horses with stunning views from all the hillsides. The Northern Zone of Costa Rica is the country's best kept secret, providing a perfect home base location to travel the country's many destinations while still maintaining the best climate at 400 meters above sea level.

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Call center for rent ready to go !
13 work stations, good equipment, good location, Rohrmoser, two blocks from Plaza Mayor. $4.000 per month. Call Kevin 8366-6861.

Live the dream!
Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 229
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Bill to rein in NSA fails in U.S. Senate

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A bill that would have ended the U.S. government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records was defeated in the U.S. Senate Tuesday.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 58-42 to move the bill to a formal debate, falling two votes short of the 60 required. The bill, dubbed the U.S.A. Freedom Act, would have required the National Security Agency to obtain a court order to retrieve data, and then only about a specific person. The Republican-held House of Representatives had previously passed its own version of the bill.

The legislation was crafted after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the bulk collection program in 2013. Although the agency did not collect the contents of the phone conversations, the revelations still triggered a backlash among civil liberties activists who said the program violated Americans' privacy.

The bill was supported by the Obama administration and technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple. But Senate Republicans said the legislation would undermine the government's ability to combat terrorism.

There is little chance the bill will come up for another vote before January, when Republicans take control of the Senate.

Electronic cigarettes creates new word

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

This year's English word of the year, as chosen by the Oxford Dictionaries, is vape.

Vape is the verb that describes inhaling and exhaling the vapor from an electronic cigarette or similar device. It can also be used as a noun referring to the action or the device.

Oxford editors say "you are thirty times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago." They say usage has more than doubled in the past year.

Last year's word of the year was selfie — a photo taken of yourself with a smartphone or other camera.

Vape was officially added to the Web site in August.

It defeated several other words deemed significant this year in becoming the top pick.

Animal adoption fair Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asociación Animales de Asís will be offering cats, kittens, dogs and puppies for adoption Saturday at the Walmart in Heredia from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The animals are all castrated and vaccinated. A donation is requested.

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From Page 7:

Entrepreneurship featured with many events

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The high point of Costa Rica's Semana Global del Emprendimiento will be, appropriately, the new age guru Deepak Chopra, who has parlayed a medical degree into a $100 million business.

He is scheduled to speak Nov. 24, but there are many other activities promoting what is called in English the Global Entrepreneurship Week. Since its founding in 2007, the week has blossomed to now include activities in 130 countries.

Activities in Costa Rica started Nov. 4 and have the support of many major firms. A calendar is HERE! In all there are some 40 activities centered on the theme.

In addition to discussions, there have been some concrete actions. Grupo Nación participated in the formation of  a business incubator, and President Luis Guillermo Solís is scheduled to announce a national policy of entrepreneurship. There also are discussions scheduled with persons who have started and run successfully their own businesses.

None has been as successful as Chopra who promotes the belief that mind controls matter and that the right approach can extend life. His talk at the Centro de Eventos Pedregal has admissions ranging from 162,400 to  29,120 colons, some $304 to $53.60.